We’re only enforcing FG/ECOWAS directive on flights to Niger Republic – NAMA

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The Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA) explained the ban on flights to Niger Republic saying the decision is not its own making.

Spokesman for the agency, Mr Abdullahi Musa, said in a statement that suspension of flights to the West African country would only be lifted by the minister of aviation and aero space development as approved by the presidency and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).

He said the ban was slapped on Niger Republic in retaliation of the coup that took place in that country on July 26, 2023 and the decision by ECOWAS to shut the “land and air borders” between the sub-regional economic bloc members and Niger.

The statement reads: “In response to the recent political events surrounding the coup d’état in the Republic of Niger on July 26, 2023, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) convened an extraordinary summit to address the situation. Among the resolutions adopted during the summit, ECOWAS announced the closure of land and air borders between ECOWAS countries and Niger, along with the establishment of a no-fly zone on all commercial flights to and from Niger.

“In retaliation to these measures, the Niger government suspended flights into Nigeria and overflying planes. Furthermore, the permanent secretary of the federal ministry of aviation and aerospace development issued a directive to the Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA) on August 2, 2023. This directive instructed NAMA to issue a notice to airmen effective from August 3, 2023, enforcing the no-fly zone on all commercial flights between Niger and Nigeria.

“As of 0600 UTC on August 3, 2023, aircraft departing from or arriving at aerodromes within the Niamey Flight Information Region (FIR-Nigerien Airspace) were prohibited from entering Kano FIR until further notice.

“Following standard procedures, the NOTAM transitioned into an aeronautical information circular (AIC) on January 29, 2024. The AIC reiterated the suspension of all commercial flights between Niger and Nigeria, as well as flights overflying Nigeria to Niger.

“However, certain exemptions were outlined, including over-flight aircraft passing through Niger airspace, aircraft in a state of emergency and special flights. It is important to note that special flights require authorization from the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Aviation and Aerospace Development.

“It is crucial to highlight that the suspension of flights can only be lifted by the honourable minister of aviation and aero space development as approved by the presidency and ECOWAS.

“The Nigerian Airspace Management Agency remains committed to ensuring the safety and security of airspace users, in compliance with international regulations and directives.”